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On June 20, 1816, Peter Lung began the journey from his Middletown, Connecticut, jail cell to the gallows that had been erected for his execution. A "multitude, amounting as was supposed to eleven or twelve thousand" turned out to witness Lung die for the beating death of his wife a year earlier, during a two-day bout of physical and verbal abuse produced by both spouses' chronic intoxication. After religious services and an execution sermon in the Presbyterian church, Lung approached the "place of Execution with composure, and even with cheerfulness." Observers remarked upon his resignation and fortitude, noting that this humble deportment "on this awful occasion, was such as to justify a strong hope that by a sincere and timely repentance" during his stay in prison, "he had found the mercy of the Saviour equal to the greatness and enormity of his guilt." When Lung was "dressed for the grave and the fatal rope was fastened about his neck," the Rev. David D. Field, noted,

he was raised above the fears of death. On his way to the gallows, he conversed freely on the subjects of religion, confessed that he greatly abused his wife and was willing to die for the offence [sic]. After a solemn prayer offered at his request at the gallows, he desired that the people might be warned in his name against the sins which had proved so injurious to him.... No trembling appeared in his voice or limbs, and when the platform was struck from under him, he expired without a struggle. [1]

Lung's crime and execution must have shocked the residents of relatively sleepy Middlesex county. Murder and execution were unusual: local authorities had executed only three murderers since the county's settlement. One case, an infanticide by a Pequot woman, had occurred nearly a century earlier, in 1738. Indeed, the local newspaper cited the "infrequency of capital punishment" and the "deep interest the public mind had taken" in Lung's lengthy legal battles as causes for the large crowd that assembled around the gallows. But if the incident itself struck the citizens of Middlesex as extraordinary, the cultural assumptions and practices which framed it and made it intelligible must have seemed far more familiar. Colonial and early national Americans would have recognized the narration of the horrific crime, the condemned felon's repentance, and the morally-instructive execution day sermon as standard elements of justice and crime literature. Moreover, Lung's contemporaries would have been accustomed to warn ings about the role of intemperance in producing manifold transgressions of law and morality. Zephaniah Swift, the presiding judge at Lung's trial, called excessive drinking a "frequent theme for the contemplation of the moralist, and the admonitions of the divine," and noted that he had often "borne public testimony against it in addresses to Grand Juries on similar occasions." "[N]othing new can be said," Swift admitted, even acknowledging that some considered intemperance "a worn-out topic fit only for commonplace declamation." But the severity and extent of the problem, Swift insisted, demanded that the "old arguments and considerations ought to be reiterated and enforced in every possible shape till a reformation is accomplished." Swift reported accurately on legal and clerical interest in ameliorating Connecticut's drinking problem. In 1808, the churches of the western district of Fairfield expressed alarm at the extent of intemperance, and only two months before Lucy Lung's murder, a convention of mora l societies met in Goshen to promote "virtue and good morals," including temperance. In 1816, the year of Peter's execution, a Philadelphia printer issued "A Calm Dissuasive against Intemperance," a statement of the Fairfield West Consociation of Congregational Churches in Connecticut that expressed alarm at 'how very often strong drink drowns conjugal, parental, filial, and fraternal affection." Indeed, in the same issue of the Middlesex Gazette that contained Judge Swift's charge to Lung's jury, a piece entitled "The Cogitations of Uncle John" warned against an "evil, a master vice, the prolific mother of a thousand woes, the perennial spring of boundless misery, prevailing in the land ... That vice is INTEMPERANCE." [3]

Still, despite the familiarity of this message, the Lung case presented some singular features. Alleged irregularities in the conduct of Lung's first trial led the Connecticut legislature to set aside the conviction and convene new proceedings. Lung's second trial also produced a death sentence, but the legislature s intervention made the case a political cause celebre, piqued the public's interest in the crime, and resulted in additional newspaper coverage and the publication of two pamphlets. [4] But for our purposes, the Lung case's significance lies elsewhere. A close reading of the newspaper and pamphlet sources reveals fault lines between existing and emerging ways of understanding and discussing intemperance, violence, and gender. In particular, the contested depiction of Lucy Lung, Peter's unfortunate victim, constitutes something of an ideological cusp, looking backward to 17th- and 18th-century notions of woman as (at least potentially) depraved sinner complicit in man's downfall, and forward to 19 th-century images of woman as innocent victim of man's brutality. [5] The Lung case highlights issues and ideas that would shape both antebellum temperance reform and the development of Victorian gender roles. To set the stage, some attention to the context and specifics of the crime will be in order.

Born near Middletown in 1768, Peter Lung sprang from a family of New England ne'er-do-wells. Peter's struggling father, a small landowner who disappeared from the historical record during the Revolution, bound out the boy to a wealthy farmer in 1775. In 1791, at age twenty three, Peter married Lucy Kelley, the daughter of an equally marginal family. The union produced nine children, eight of whom survived into the 19th century, but little economic success or stability. By the 1810s, financial difficulties, Peter's inability to succeed as a farmer, and his increasing recourse to the bottle necessitated a move to a small tenement in Middletown, which the Lungs shared with Lucy's mother and another family. Removing from a rural district into town, the Lungs found themselves living in cramped quarters in a neighborhood populated by groups disdained by Anglo-American society: free blacks and Irish and German immigrants. [6] Peter supported his wife and children by hiring himself out as a laborer, and in July, 181 5, his work for Ichabod Miller, a prosperous farmer, kept him away for a week. Returning home late on Saturday, July 30, Peter found the house in disarray, but was cheered by the cider brandy Lucy had procured by cooking for a free black neighbor. The next day, Peter purchased some meat and a pint of rum. After both partook of the liquor, the couple argued over who should dig potatoes for dinner. When Lucy refused, Peter complained that she would cook "for Jack [their neighbor], if he will get you cider brandy." Lucy grew angry, challenging him to "go and get Elizabeth Miller, that [he] had been with the night before," to cook for him. Lucy remembered Peter's late arrival on Saturday night, and apparently suspected an affair between her husband and Miller, his employer's fifty year old daughter. "'You was not out on any good business until eleven o'clock at night,"' Peter quoted his wife," '[and] I tell you I won't cook any more for you." Both became "very angry, and conducted [themselves] most imprudently an d wickedly" as the result of being "in a state of intoxication." After recriminations on both sides, the argument turned ugly: Peter "kicked her in her side, and took hold of her and raised her up.... I then gave her a violent push, and she fell upon her hands and knees." A little later, when Lucy cursed and mocked Peter, he assaulted her again, kicking her "against the shoulder and neck," causing her to fall "over against a chest." Lucy rose and retreated into the next room, but began screaming "as loud as she could." Fearing that "she would raise the neighbors," Peter asked her the cause of her outburst, and she replied that he had hurt her head. Peter later apologized, even urging that the couple "set better examples before our children--go to meeting and not quarrel so any more." To the best of Peter's recollection, the couple passed the remainder of Sunday night "in as much peace as we ever did," and Lung retired "harbouring no ill-will towards [his]wife." [7]

The next morning, Lucy asked Peter to look at her eye, complaining that "she could hardly see out of it." Upon examination, he found her eye "very much" swollen, as was her neck, which "appeared bruised." Lucy also protested that her side hurt where Peter had kicked her the day before. Peter apologized again, and tried to make her comfortable, but Lucy remained boisterous and "fretful during the whole course of the day." Nursing her injuries by keeping "herself in a state of intoxication," Lucy heaped contumely on Peter, their children, and neighbors. She brightened momentarily when Peter provided rum for her during the visit of a Mrs. Darby, who may have been Lucy's cousin ("'Why, my husband is not the worst man in the world,"' Peter quoted his wife, "'if he does have a high once in a while."'), but later continued her vituperation. Peter claimed that he went to bed on Monday night, and saw no more of his wife until he found her dead the next morning. [8]

When local authorities examined the corpse, they found it "mangled and bruised in a most shocking manner. There were nearly twenty wounds and bruises," including marks on the neck that suggested that Peter had seized Lucy "by the throat and choaked [sic] her to death." Despite Peter's protestations of innocence, testimony from Lucy's mother and other witnesses led a special superior court to conclude that her "death was occasioned by violence and repeated blows upon her head and body given by the hand of her husband, Peter Lung, in the course of yesterday and last night." Lung won a second trial by petitioning the legislature, but "so irresistible was the evidence, that notwithstanding the impression made in his favor by the interposition of the legislature....[the jury] did not hesitate to bring in a verdict of guilty." [9]

Once condemned and in prison awaiting execution, Peter received visits from local ministers eager to prevent him from meeting death impenitent. Under their influence, Peter repented, accepted Christianity, and wrote apologetic letters to his mother, mother-in-law, and children. [10] These letters, in conjunction with the other published material on the crime, provide a window on conflicting ideas about gender and its relationship to violence and intemperance. Peter's account of his wife's character and drinking habits differed markedly from those offered by the religious and legal establishment. Certainly, all parties agreed on the pernicious effects of intemperance, and its tendency to promote domestic violence and discord. But on issues of blame, responsibility, and the moral nature of the sexes, important contrasts emerged.

In published accounts and documents, the authorities portrayed Lucy Lung as the pitiable victim of her husband's drunkenness and violence. Judge Zephaniah Swift forcefully evoked this image in his charge to the Grand Jury he had convened to try the Lung case. Apparently unconcerned about prejudicing those impaneled against the accused, Swift emphasized that "drunkenness is no excuse for the commission of a crime." Moreover, he reminded the jury, excessive drinking "(the prevailing vice and the deepest disgrace of our country)" constituted a major source of violence and domestic misery:

How painful to behold in a family once happy, the father become a sot; the mother in tears, and the children lamenting or imitating the vices of the parent.... Imagine the torture and distress of his wife and children. Alas! the monster dips his hands in the blood of those who have the strongest claim on his kindness and protection.

Swift's "Vindication" of his legal conduct painted a similar if less melodramatic picture, noting simply that Lung "had been in the habit of beating and threatening his wife, when in liquor; that a little previous to her death, he had quarreled with her, and her face carried the marks of blows he had struck her." [12]

After Lung's second trial, the presiding judge employed similar language when rendering sentence, assailing Lung for the "Murder of a weak and defenceless [sic] woman." Rather than fulfilling his matrimonial vows, Judge John Trumbull railed, Lung had abandoned himself to "habits of intemperance," and given the reins to [his] malignant passions:"

.... instead of treating her with the promised tenderness and affection, you made her the object of your malevolence and vengeance; long did she suffer under the strokes of your barbarity, till at last you put an end to her life, in a scene of savage brutality, and with a cruelty shocking to humanity. [13]

The Rev. David D. Field, the other major voice of authority in the Lung case, rendered a similar version of events. In his execution day sermon, Field fulminated against drunkenness, especially its deleterious effects on the family. Among one's "relations and connections" reside "our principal opportunities for doing good," Field noted, but here the "drunkard is a perpetual cause of grief, mortification, and fear." But for his overindulgence in liquor, the clergyman lamented, Peter might have been "a reputable and useful citizen," his wife a comfort to him, "as she was for years after your marriage," and his children "as olive plants around your table." But strong drink inflamed Peter's "naturally violent and impetuous" passions, and led him to "frequent acts of violence, even upon her who was your companion and the wife of your covenant. In a fit of intoxication you inflicted upon her wounds, marks of which she carried to the grave." [14]

All these accounts of the crime betray reluctance to discuss Lucy Lung's intemperance, and the role it might have played in her death. This is surprising, for contemporary opinion held that women as well as men succumbed to intemperance. Benjamin Rush, whom many temperance reformers considered the founder of their movement, acknowledged as much in the late eighteenth century. Is the drunkard "a wife? Who can measure," Rush asked dolefully, "the shame and aversion" which a drunken wife "excites in her husband?" Rush's recognition that both the sexes drank to excess set the tone for early nineteenth century discussion of intemperance. Noting in 1815, for instance, that approximately six thousand drunkards die in the United States each year, Benjamin Wadsworth bewailed women's presence among the casualties: "'Would to God' the female sex were never found among this number! But, alas! they too serve to swell our bills of mortality." Other reformers ruefully agreed. "Not only men drink," lamented a group of Conne cticut Congregationalists, "but women also." General acceptance of female drinking contributed to this unfortunate circumstance, they noted disapprovingly, for most of their neighbors regarded a "high scrape now and then" as merely a "venial fault, which by no means disqualifies persons, of either sex, from genteel and virtuous society." [15]

Much early nineteenth-century discussion of female intemperance centered on the damage it did to family life. "The drunkard is a noisome pestilence to all around him. Is he a father--is she a mother--of a family? Alas for that family," observed clergyman Samuel Worcester in 1817. Though temperance advocates acknowledged that either male or female drinking destroyed domestic happiness, they often reserved their harshest opprobrium for women's drunkenness. "What ray of consolation cheers the midnight gloom surrounding a family," asked another cleric, "where a wife or mother can forget her sex and her duties, in this unnatural indulgence?" This animadversion pales before those of other critics. Minister Alexander Gunn considered female drinking a fact "the recital of which is enough to freeze the blood." Begging leave for a brief digression, Gunn declared that there "cannot be a more disgusting object, than a drunken woman. Among the Romans," he continued, a woman of this character

was punished with death; and though the punishment is not to be vindicated, their abhorrence of the crime is certainly to be commended. At the present day, a staggering female is no uncommon sight; and many, even of the fashionable part of the sex, who pretend to great refinement and delicacy, indulge in this most detestable of vices, and thereby render themselves a disgrace and a curse to their families.

In a similar vein, the Rev. Stephen Badger fulminated that a wife and mother being "overcharged and disordered by the operation of strong drink" constituted a "more grievous and confounding" matter than the intemperance of a father or husband. To see a woman in this condition, Badger continued his tirade, setting

aside all the delicacy, modesty, and sobriety of her sex; so far from managing 'her affairs with the discretion' of a goodhouse wife, that she is unable to manage them at all! To see her disgorging her folly through the want of regard to the modest reserve, which, when properly timed, sits so agreeable on the sex. To see and hear her venting her rage or her vanity, according to the ascendancy which different passions have over her! To behold a female form overspread with all the marks and tokens which usually attend a fit of drunkenness; her children around her without direction, without instruction, and in vain calling upon her for the supplies of daily food, or warm and decent clothing, which it is her province to prepare for them. Her husband, nonplussed, disconcerted, grieved, and justly offended; her sex disgraced, and all, who are any way connected with her, ashamed. [16]

Considering the strong feelings evoked by female intemperance, and reformers' willingness to condemn it, the reticence of legal and clerical authorities to discuss Lucy Lung's drinking appears somewhat unusual. Only Field mentioned it at all, and in two different and somewhat conflicting ways. In his execution sermon, Field, like the reformers cited above, noted that intemperance struck women as well as men. "Is a wife a drunkard?" he asked. "Once the delight and help of her husband, she is now the loathing of his soul and tempts him to absence and impurity. To her children she is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness." But this uncomplimentary portrait of female intemperance contrasts sharply with, and is undermined by, Field's portrayal of Lucy in his "Sketch of the Life and Hopeful Repentance of Peter Lung," published with the sermon. Here the clergyman introduced Lucy's drunkenness only to explain it away, and to highlight Peter's brutality and turpitude. Peter's drinking, in conjunction wit h bad company and irreligion, Field inveighed, inflamed his "every corrupt passion."

His wife was the most common subject of his cruelty and barbarity. Her natural temper was the reverse of his own, mild and inoffensive; and she is said to have done her best in her family that circumstances permitted, until a short time before her death, when bodily infirmities, or some other cause led her to use ardent spirits too freely. This rendered their situation more dreadful, as it furnished some pretence [sic] for his abuse (wretched enough indeed for a man of his character) and their example more evil before a numerous family of children. [17]

Three aspects of Field's treatment of Lucy Lung's drinking merit attention. First, Field depicted Peter's intemperance and brutishness as at least an indirect cause of Lucy's drinking. His "cruelty and barbarity" wore down an otherwise virtuous Lucy, in effect making her a drunkard and an unfit mother through his victimization of her. Second, Field charged that Peter compounded this outrage by taking advantage of the excessive drinking to which he drove Lucy as a pretext for continuing physical abuse. Field doubtlessly alluded to prevailing notions of marriage which made a wife's drunkenness and consequent idleness an insult to male authority, and an offense which excused physical chastisement. [18]

Third, Field suggested that Lucy's intemperance was relatively abrupt, of short duration, and in striking contrast to her previous "mild and inoffensive" deportment. This explains, if not excuses completely her drinking, but it also contradicts a position the minister took in his sermon. There, Field asserted that intoxication "without previous imprudence" was rare. "None become suddenly confirmed drunkards," he added. "The vice is too odious to be readily practiced. It steals insensibly upon men. As the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtility [sic], so are they corrupted from the simplicity of virtue." [19] Thus Field, the sole voice other than Lung to mention Lucy's drinking at all, portrayed it as an entirely different and less egregious matter than her husband's. However deplorable Lucy's drunkenness may have been, Field argued in the "Sketch," it must be viewed as part of the cycle of brutality and victimization for which Peter bore direct responsibility.

A far different account of Lucy's character and her last days emerged from Peter Lung's legal defense and published letters to support his protestations of innocence. In both trials, Peter pled not guilty, contending that Lucy's own drunkenness, not his blows, had caused her death. Averring that he found his wife dead on Tuesday morning, Lung claimed that his son Joseph's interaction with Lucy the night before exculpated him. Joseph told his father that:

he heard a noise in the night, and got up and lighted a candle, and come into the room where she was, and found her beating her head against the hearth as hard as she could; and that he took her up, and tried to lay her upon the bed, but she refused to lie there, and went and threw herself down upon the hearth again ...

Joseph tried unsuccessfully to rouse his father, and returned twice more to attempt to get his mother into bed. On the second try, Lucy "struck him in his face as hard as she could, with her fist," and Joseph resolved to let her alone. Peter maintained resolutely that the next morning he had found Lucy dead, sitting in a chair, slumped forward onto the bed. [20]

The authorities ignored Joseph's story because it conflicted with other witnesses' testimony, and because, in the words of Judge Swift, he "prevaricated so much to favour his father, as in a great measure to discredit his testimony." [21] This dismissal of Joseph's "prevarication," along with other alleged procedural irregularities, formed the basis for Lung's petition to the legislature for redress. What was Lung trying to accomplish with his persistent denials of guilt in the face of seemingly compelling evidence to the contrary? Perhaps events had unfolded as he claimed, and he merely told the truth as he knew it. A case could be made that the evidence presented cast doubt on Peter's immediate responsibility for Lucy's death. If one credits Joseph's story, the cause of Lucy's death might be self-inflicted head wounds, which could also account for the condition of the body. Why might she engage in such behavior? Quite possibly, the self-destructive actions allegedly witnessed by her son resulted from a dru nken fit, as Peter argued.

But might Lucy's efforts to injure her face and head have been more purposeful? Experts on domestic violence note that abusive husbands often hit their wives where any resulting bruises will not be visible. This appears to have been the pattern in the Lung household. Peter kicked Lucy in the side, shoulder and neck, and pushed her violently to the floor. None of these blows, save the one to Lucy's neck, would have left a mark visible on the areas of her body not covered by clothing. True, Lucy did have a swollen eye on Monday morning, but that would hardly win her the sympathy of her neighbors. Inveterate drunkards often injured themselves through falls and mishaps that routinely accompanied intoxication. Even if Peter were responsible, a black eye would probably not strike many residents of the Lungs' neighborhood as disproportionate chastisement for Lucy's intemperance, idleness and disrespect. So Lucy might indeed have been attempting to injure herself grievously and visibly, to demonstrate how deplorably Peter treated her. That Lucy "made no outcry of murder, nor called for help, nor acted otherwise, than an intoxicated woman," lends further credence to this possibility. This detail deserves notice, for crying murder was a standard recourse for women, especially those living in working class neighborhoods, whose husbands' physical abuse became so violent as to threaten their lives. Neighbors and friends would then intervene to protect the imperiled spouse. Lucy could not avail herself of this relief, though she lived in area populated by friends and relations. Until the night of her death, Peter's violence apparently had not exceeded acceptable levels, especially since, in the eyes of the community, Lucy had brought it partially on herself through her drunkenness and disobedience. [22]

Was Peter, then, an aggrieved innocent who begged the legislature for a second chance at a fair hearing in court, so that the truth would emerge and clear him? Perhaps. More likely, Lung hoped to exploit volatile public sentiment to win a pardon, not a new trial, from the Connecticut legislature. In the turbulent times that followed the Hartford Convention, hostility toward Connecticut's Standing Order could easily have been translated into support for the common man against the legal and political establishment. [23] Zephaniah Swift's admittedly self-serving "Vindication" of his conduct attributed a major part of the furor over Lung's trial to enmity against authority. Swift remarked, some people "will hint at the unfairness of the trial ... and many will find fault ... from a secret aversion to the law, and a natural disposition to pull down courts, and prostrate government." Such prejudices, Swift continued ruefully, served to transform "the convicted murder" into "an innocent sufferer." [24]

Considering the political situation in Connecticut at the time, Swift was probably partially correct about the role of popular resentment against authority in the Lung trial. In his haste to justify himself, however, Swift glossed over the question of why and how the public embraced this particular cause, considering the brutality of the crime and the strong evidence of Lung's guilt. Recognizing that Lung's appeal for justice relied not just on a recitation of judicial improprieties, but on the depiction of his wife in a decidedly unfavorable manner clarifies this aspect of the proceedings. Lung's petition to the Connecticut assembly denied his responsibility for his wife's death, but also emphasized her disrespectful and dissolute behavior to place his undeniable violence toward her in a less damning light. Judge Swift's synopsis of the forty-eight page petition provides a sense of the argument's tone:

The petition ... contains an attack on the character of his deceased wife, alleging that she was a drunkard, crazy, idle, wasteful and quarrelsome. It then gives an account of her conduct, some of their quarrels, and a very different relation of the transactions at the time of her death, from what was proved in court, and attributes her death to drunkenness ... [Lung declared] that he did not give to his wife any blows that would occasion her death; that when he injured her, he was greatly provoked; that he never wished her death, or intended to kill her ..." [25]

Lung continued a muted version of this character assassination in the autobiography and letters he published before his execution. Here he portrayed his wife, not as mild or inoffensive, but as argumentative and idle. Lucy incessantly berated her family and neighbors, and refused to perform household duties. Though acknowledging that he battered his wife, Lung attempted to spread the blame evenly between them while highlighting Lucy's drinking as a prime cause of her death and his downfall. They would nor have argued so violently, Lung maintained, had they "not both been in a state of intoxication." After his second trial and death-row conversion, the repentant Lung accepted responsibility for his sins and mistreatment of his wife, but insisted, even in expectation "of a judgment to come" that she was alive and well when he retired on the night of her death. Even on the gallows, Lung confessed his guilt only indirectly, declaring his "belief that his wife came to her death in consequence of the wounds he gav e her; altho [sic], he denied that he ever meant to destroy her." [26]

The differences between Lung's rendering of his wife's death and those of the legal and clerical establishment reveal much about changing notions of gender and temperance. In defending himself, Lung drew upon older images of women as sinful, idle, contentious beings to contextualize and mitigate his own abhorrent actions. New England popular culture offered abundant examples of willful, immoral women who might remind Lung's contemporaries of his obstreperous wife. [27] Though he could hardly deny his own involvement, Lung sought to extenuate his culpability by portraying himself as a well-meaning but erring husband who had been led astray by strong drink and undermined by a drunken wife. When sober, Lung averred, he was "kind and tender" to his family, doing "everything in my power to make them comfortable." Maintaining to the last that he had not intended to harm Lucy, Peter Lung laid much of the blame for the tragedy on the insidious power of "the sin of intemperance and infidelity and their attendant evil s," [28] a familiar theme for New Englanders.

But with this recourse to established conceptions of intemperance, Peter also introduced entrenched notions of gender that subtly deflected some of the blame for his wife's death from him to woman's sinful nature. Lung emphasized Lucy's drinking and fractious behavior as causes of her death and his ruin, thereby conjuring up 17th- and 18th-century visions of corrupt woman as pitfall for man. He did not deny, for example, either beating his wife or the alleged unfaithfulness with Elizabeth Miller, but his depiction of Lucy as a besotted shrew made either offense more understandable, if no less regrettable. In spite of himself, David Field recognized as much, noting that a drunken wife tempts her husband to "absence and impurity," and that Lucy's drinking provided a "pretence" for domestic violence. Lung could certainly rely upon his readers to share these perceptions and recognize Lucy's drunkenness as a dereliction of the duty and obedience a wife owed her husband, and thus, a sore provocation. After all, Lu ng reminded his audience, on the night before the alleged murder, Lucy had procured money for liquor by offering to cook for a free black neighbor, though she refused to cook for him. [29]

Equally revealing is Lung's denial that he made Lucy a drunkard. Lung took pains in his letters to refute Field's implication to that effect. Addressing himself to Lucy's mother, Lung dated his wife's drunkenness to the time the couple moved in with her. Further, he laid the blame not at his own feet, but at those of dissolute female friends and relations:

I must declare that I had no knowledge that my wife ever drank to disguise herself until after we removed into the house with you. There, you too well know, she had this bad and destructive practice set before her, by almost all her female companions and connexions [sic]--And though I have been charged with making her a drinking woman, I sincerely believe that her intimacy with those of her own sex, who set her the example, tended more to get her confirmed in this destructive practice than any example of mine, however bad, could have done.

Lung struck the same chord in a letter to his mother:

You have often heard me charged with the crime of getting my deceased wife into the habit of intoxication. But you know what examples some of our neighbors set before her, and how much certain women, who visited her, were given to this horrid practice. Now, I sincerely believe, that their examples had more influence upon my poor wife, than ever mine could have had--though ever so bad. [30]

This account of female influence presents a striking reversal of what would become conventional wisdom in the next two decades. Believing women to be paragons of morality and religiosity, antebellum temperance reformers lauded female influence as a major asset in the battle against drunkenness. Peter Lung saw things differently. He portrayed women and female influence as sources of intemperance and sin, rather than sobriety and virtue. Recall that Lung claimed it was he, not Lucy, who engaged in self-reproval for the poor example set for their children. Nor did Hannah Kelley, Lucy's mother and a primary witness against Peter, fare much better in his account. Though asserting a "spirit of forgiveness" toward his mother-in-law, Peter attributed the accusations "of one of my bitterest enemies" to "a misunderstanding, on account of her using [Lung's] liquor too freely with her daughter in his absence, and taking it without liberty..." Further, Lung argued that Mrs. Kelley "is seventy-eight years of age, peevish, irritable and forgetful, and that she told a different story from her testimony" to a clergyman. This rendition of female characters

in the case portrays Hannah Kelley as an abandoned, disagreeable crone who contributed to her child's intemperance; an older version of his drunken, ill-tempered wife. In short, Lung harked back to earlier notions of gender to moderate public condemnation in a society increasingly concerned about the effects of male intemperance on women. [31]

The change in public understanding and conceptualization of intemperance becomes clear when Lung's claims are juxtaposed with the other commentators' positions. As we have seen, newspaper accounts and legal proceedings ignored or downplayed Lucy Lung's intemperance, opting to paint her as the pathetic victim of her drunken brute of a husband. Both Trumbull and Swift, for instance, evoked images of the loyal wife whose husband requited her devotion with insults and violence. This prefigured emerging gendered notions of intemperance which regarded drunkenness as basically a male vice that afflicted women through the abuse visited upon them by dipsomaniacal husbands and fathers. [32] Before about 1830, temperance sermons, tracts and addresses routinely broached female intemperance. Their post-1830 counterparts, however, focused almost exclusively on drunkenness as a male problem, usually eschewing serious discussion or even mention of female drinking. The reasons for this ideological shift, which occurred concu rrently with the ascendance of the American middle class, had much to do with the emergence of the ideology of domesticity, and its attendant portrayal of women as fonts of virtue and defenders of home and family. Though the Lungs were clearly not middle class by antebellum standards, their case demonstrates the process by which middle class reformers would establish a norm for female behavior and character based on middle class models. As Harry Gene Levine observed, the retreat from acknowledging female intemperance bespoke "the heavy investment that middle class men had in the image of women as pure and virtuous--too many examples of drunken women, especially middle class ones, could undermine the whole model of the middle-class family." [33]

The transitional and conflicted nature of the rhetoric surrounding the Lung case appears in high relief in the Rev. David Field's sermon and biography of Lung. The sermon, replete with theological language and scriptural allusions, invokes many of the themes characteristic of temperance literature before 1830: drunkenness as sin, the vulnerability of both sexes, the necessity of the drunkard's repentance, and so on. Field's sketch of Lung's life, by contrast, more closely resembles post-1830 temperance material. It introduces Lucy's drinking only to dismiss and excuse it, portraying her as a "mild and inoffensive" woman whose character was "the reverse of [Peter's] own." Though intemperate herself, Lucy resorted to strong drink only to alleviate the despair of a drunkard's wife. [34]

Field's tactic of shifting the blame for a wife's intemperance to her husband would become a familiar feature of temperance writing during the next two decades. In 1821, for example, one reformer inquired into the circumstances of the deaths of a husband and wife, both drunkards. In terms similar to those employed by Field, he related that before their marriage, the woman "sustained the character of an industrious young woman." But "in consequence" of her husband's descent into drunkenness, "poverty and want, with all their attendants, broke down her spirits." She, too, took to the bottle "in order to drown the sorrow of her heart." In short, her husband's intemperance caused her affliction. Other temperance advocates told similar tales. Writing in 1833, Goerge Bethune reflected on the damage inflicted on a drunkard's family. "Too often," he noted, "they follow in his ruin. The wife drinks to drown her sorrows." One Mrs. Dungan, the Matron of the Philadelphia Children's Asylum, expressed a similar opinion in 1835. Sixty of her charges had intemperate parents: twenty two with drunken fathers, thirty four with besotted mothers, four with both. Mrs. Dungan denied that the proportion of intemperate mothers was greater than that of fathers, however, for experience had shown her that "the intemperance of the former, had generally been the consequence of the same vicious and degrading propensity of the latter." [35] Like the unfortunate female protagonists of these and other later temperance tracts, Lucy Lung became important in Field's text only as the "subject" of her husband's "cruelty and barbarity." Thus Field's publication looks both to the past and the future: his sermon reinvoked colonial images of gender and drunkenness, while his biography presaged things to come. [36]

In the two decades after the Lung case, many of the themes developed by the clerical and legal establishment to condemn Peter's drinking and extenuate Lucy's became the stock and trade of the temperance movement. The victimization of women by drunken men; the innate morality of women, and the rarity of female intemperance all found their way into temperance lectures, sermons, tracts, and periodicals. Most temperance advocates preferred not to discuss female drunkenness at all, but when they could not avoid it, drew on images and ideas evident in the publicity surrounding Lung's trial. How well Field and the others foreshadowed emerging notions of gender, violence and intemperance can be seen in a later incident of drunken spousal violence, this one from 1834.

The story of James Hoduet and his unnamed wife, which was reported by the New York press and picked up by at least one temperance almanac, demonstrates how the vision of woman as victim of male drunkenness developed during the two decades after the Lung case. Hoduet and his wife "(the former holding a pretty but sickly looking infant in his arms,)" appeared in court to charge each other with assault. Both looked "sickly, pale, and emaciated, from a long course of intemperance," despite respectable attire and some signs of formal education. Hoduet's wife complained that he had beaten her, and kept their unweaned baby from her; he countered that she got drunk and took the child to a brothel. "Who first drove me to it!" snarled his wife, "don't provoke me to tell all." [37] She proceeded to do just that.

Her testimony revealed that the couple had been happy until Hoduet began frequenting a ten-pin alley, which resulted in his becoming an habitual drunkard. Not content to debase himself, Hoduet insisted that his wife drink as well. Hoduet neglected his work, but his wife gamely toiled as a tailoress after their child's birth, "until finding that he spent all the money that she saved, she took to drinking herself," thereby reducing the family to destitution. Upbraiding his wife for "a want of spirit," Hoduet ordered her to, go to a "house of ill fame" and prostitute herself to earn money. When she refused, he tied her to the bed post and beat her with a cord, "until her back was dreadfully lacerated." This she would have endured without complaint, had he not taken their child from her and

refused to let her suckle it, or even to see it ... 'oh sir,' said the poor woman, with tears chasing one another thickly down her haggard cheeks, 'if you would preserve my life and that dear bab's, do not for pity's sake, let it be kept from me.

Hoduet objected that he had found her recently with a naval officer, which his wife admitted. "But sir," she pleaded, "who has he to blame but himself, that first taught me to drink?" In her defense, she declared that she hadn't seen her husband or child for three days, and had since learned that he had sent the man to her. "I became crazy with the liquor I had taken," she explained, "and I know not what I did." Further, she added, only yesterday, when she asked Hoduet for their child, "he struck me with the poker and threw me down the stairs." Hoduet insisted that he assaulted his wife only because he was drunk, but the magistrate had heard enough. He jailed Hoduet for assault and battery, and returned the child to its mother. The child, which had been crying for most of the interview, "held out its little hands to its mother, and soon buried it head in her bosom; and while the husband was conducted to prison, the wife sobbing bitterly left the office." [38]

This story, and others like it, illustrate how the image of victimized woman came to dominate the temperance movement's notions of gender by the 1830s. Like Lucy Lung, James Hoduet's wife became dissolute, immoral, and argumentative under the influence of liquor. But here there is no invocation of sinful woman. Like Field, the anonymous author of the Hoduet story excused female intemperance and transgression, blaming them on the debasing influence of a drunken husband. Even Mrs. Hoduet's adultery and prostitution, which would otherwise have made her a pariah whatever the circumstances, elicted compassion rather than censure, as had Lucy's liquor-induced misbehavior. Though Mrs. Hoduet differed from Lucy Lung in some respects, they both served the temperance movement as victimized women, gendered examples of the consequences of male drunkenness and violence.

As this comparison suggests, the various accounts of the Lung case reveal much about changing notions of violence, gender, and intemperance in the early national United States. Most striking is what they disclose about the origins of female victimization as a dominant theme in and impetus to antebellum reform. The transformation of Lucy Lung from drunken scold to brutalized victim illustrates in microcosm what would occur later in the antebellum temperance movement and beyond, as Americans reconceptualized gender in the decades before the Civil War. To be sure, some salutary effects ensued, as women used the emerging recognition of their suffering at men's hands to demand legal protection of their interests in marriage, divorce, and property law, greater participation in reform movements, and enhanced influence in society. But this was hardly unmitigated progress, for legal reform and social influence were purchased at the price of enshrining in the American consciousness the notion that women's place in soci ety would be shaped and bounded by male violence and excess.


(1.) "Execution," Middlesex Gazette (Middletown), 27 June 1816, 3; "The Execution," American Mercury (Hartford), 2 July 1816, 3; David D. Field, Warning against Drunkenness. A Sermon Preached in the City of Middletown, June 20, 1816, the Day of the Execution of Peter Lung, for the Murder of his Wife; at the Request of the Sheriff of the County of Middlesex, and in Accordance with the Wishes of the Criminal. Together with a Sketch of the Life and Hopeful Repentance of Said Lung (Middletown, 1816), 27-28.

(2.) On executions in Middlesex County, see David D. Field, A Statistical Account of the County of Middlesex in Connecticut (Middletown, 1819), 17, 39, 91-92; quote from Middlesex Gazette 27 June 1816, 3.

(3.) "The Charge of Judge Swift, delivered to the Grand Jury at Middletown, on the 29th day of Aug., inst., and published at their request," Middlesex Gazette 7 Sept. 1815, 2-3; Richard J. Purcell, Connecticut in Transition: 1775-1818 (Middletown, 1963), 27; Convention of Moral Societies, Proceedings of a Convention of Moral Societies, in the County of Litchfield, holden May 30, 1815, at Goshen. An Abstract of the Laws of Connecticut. And an Address to the Public on the Promotion of Virtue and Good Works (New Haven, 1816); Congregational Churches in Connecticut, Fairfield West Consociation, A Calm Dissuasive against Intemperance; or, An Awful View of the Horrors and Miseries of Drunkenness Philadelphia, 1816), 18-19; "The Cogitations of Uncle John," Middlesex Gazette, Ibid., 1. On early American crime literature, see Daniel A. Cohen, Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace: New England Crime Literature and the Origins of American Popular Culture, 1674-1860 (New York, 1993), and Daniel E. Williams, Pillars of Salt : An Anthology of Early American Criminal Narratives (Madison, 1993). On capital punishment after the Revolution, see Louis P. Masur, Rites of Execution: Capital Punishment and the Transformation of American Culture, 1776-1865 (New York, 1989).

(4.) On the legislature's action, see Middlesex Gazette 9 Nov. 1815, and Zephaniah Swift, A Vindication of the Calling of the Special Superior Court, at Middletown, on the 4th Tuesday of August, 1815, for the Trial of Peter Lung, Charged with the Crime of Murder. With Observations on the Constitutional Power of the Legislature to Interfere with the Judiciary in the Administration of Justice (Windham, 1816). On Lung's second trial, see Middlesex Gazette 28 Dec. 1815; and Peter Lung, A Brief Account of the Life of Peter Lung, Who is Sentenced to be Executed in June next, and is now Confined ma Gloomy Dungeon, Loaded with Chains, Awaiting the Awful Execution of the Law. Given by Himself, in a Series of Letters to his Mother, Mother-in-Law, and Children. All Written since his Last Trial. Likewise, His Dying Address, to those who Testified Against Him on his Trial. Published at his Request (Hartford, 1816). On the political and constitutional issues raised by the Lung case, see Purcell, Connecticut in Transition, 133.

(5.) On depictions of colonial women, see Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England (New York, 1987); Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Goodwives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 (New York, 1982); Cornelia Hughes Dayton, Women Before the Bar: Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639-1789 (Chapel Hill, 1995); and Linda K. Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (New York, 1980), 19, 31. For later developments, see Jan Lewis, "The Republican Wife: Virtue and Seduction in the Early Republic,' William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., XLIV, 4 (October 1987): 689-72 1 and Christine Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860 (Urbana, 1986). For discussions of 19th-century women and gender roles, consult Barbara Welter's classic "The Cult of True Womanhood, 1820-1860," 313-33 in The American Family in Social-Historical Perspective, ed. Michael Gordon (New York, 1978); Nancy Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere: in New England, 1780-1835 (New Haven, 1977), and Linda Kerber, "Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, Woman's Place: The Rhetoric of Woman's History," Journal of American History 75, 1 (June 1988): 9-39.

(6.) Biographical information was drawn from Doris Sherrow, "Murder in Middletown: Lower-Class Life in Connecticut in 1815," in House and Home, Annual Proceedings of the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, vol. 13 (Boston, 1990), 38-47, esp. 38-39; 43-44.

(7.) Lung, Brief Account, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

(8.) Lung, Ibid., 9, 10; Sherrow, "Murder in Middletown," 45.

(9.) Swift, Vindication, 9,10, 48; American Mercury, 10 August 1815, 3.

(10.) Advertisements for these letters appear in the American Mercury, 19 March and 2 April 1816.

(11.) "Charge of Judge Swift," Middlesex Gazette 7 Sept. 1815, 3.

(12.) Swift, Vindication, 9.

(13.) Middlesex Gazette 28 Dec. 1815, 3. Judge Trumbull's charge also appeared in the American Mercury 9 January 1816, 3.

(14.) Field, Warning against Drunkenness, 13, 19.

(15.) Benjamin Rush, The Effects of Ardent Spirits upon the Human Body and Mind, (1784), reprinted in The Temperance Volume; Embracing the Temperance Tracts of the American Tract Society (New York, 1839), 6; Benjamin Wadsworth, Intemperance a National Evil. A Discourse Delivered in the Brick Meeting House in Danvers, Before the Society in that Town for Suppressing Intemperance and Other Vices, and for Promoting Temperance and General Morality. June 29,1815 (Salem, 1815), 10; Fairfield West Consociation, Calm Dissuasive, 6,38.

(16.) Samuel Worcester, D.D., The Drunkard a Destroyer: A Discourse Delivered before the Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance, at their Anniversary Meeting, May 30, 1817 (Boston, 1817), 6; John T. Kirkland, D. D., A Sermon, Delivered before the Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance, at their Annual Meeting in Boston, May 27, 1814 (Boston, 1814), 8; Alexander Gunn, A Sermon on the Prevailing Vice of Intemperate Drinking, Delivered in the Reformed Church, Bloomingdale, in the City of New York, on Friday, The First Day of the New Year, 1813 (New York, 1813), 16; Rev. Stephen Badger, The Substance of Two Discourses on Intemperance; delivered at Natick; by the Late Rev. Stephen Badger, Minister of that Place (Boston, 1811), 16-17.

(17.) Field, Ibid., 13-14; 23-24.

(18.) On this point, see Stansell, City of Women, 80-83.

(19.) Field, Warning against Drunkenness, 9. "The Cogitarions of Uncle John," alluded to earlier (see ff. 3), similarly asserted that the "habit of intoxication is of slow and silent growth," not a sudden development. Middlesex Gazette 7 September 1815, 1.

(20.) Lung, Brief Account, 11-12.

(21.) Swift, Vindication, 10-11.

(22.) Swift, Ibid., 14. On husbands abusing their wives without leaving marks, see Jerome Nadelhaft, "Alcohol and Wife Abuse in Antebellum Male Temperance Literature," Canadian Review of American Studies 25,1 (Winter 1995): 15-43, esp. 34; on women crying murder to summon help, Stansell, City of Women, 81. I am indebted to Doris Sherrow for bringing the possibility of Lucy's self-injury as a response to Peter's abuse to my attention.

(23.) For background on the political dimensions of the Lung case, see Purcell, Connecticut in Transition; and David M. Roth and Freeman Meyer, From Revolution to Constitution: Connecticut 1763 to 1818 (Chester, 1975), 42-68.

(24.) Swift, Vindication, 11-12. In his summary of the petition, Swift claims that Lung acknowledged that "he is a great transgressor, though innocent of the charge made against him," and requested "the least of the indulgencies in the power of the legislature to grant, with a humble claim of pardon," (14). At the end of his diatribe against the legislature, Swift faulted the assembly for granting Lung "a trial which he did not request ... The object of his petition was a pardon," (48). Swift, then, may have over-reacted to the legislature's action, which was probably not meant as a rebuke to him, but rather an attempt to appear fair to a citizenry that looked on the state government with increasing suspicion and hostility. Unwilling to simply pardon what they believed to be a murderer, the legislature granted a second trial to placate public unrest, expecting correctly that it too would lead to a death sentence for Lung.

(25.) Swift, Ibid., 12, 13, 14.

(26.) Lung, Brief Account, 6, 9; Middlesex Gazette. 27 June 1816. This stubborn refusal to admit unreservedly that he struck the blow that killed Lucy influenced David Field to doubt the sincerity of Lung's repentance and conversion. See Field, Warning against Drunkenness, 26-27.

(27.) Some of these women became notorious through the same genre of crime literature that Lung himself employed. See, for example, Patience Boston, A Faithful Narrative of the Wicked Life and Remarkable conversion of Patience Boston (1738), A Faithful Narrative of Elizabeth Wilson (1786), and Life, Last Words , and Dying confession of Rachel Wall (1789), all reprinted in Williams, Pillars of Salt. Though narratives of this type usually emphasized repentance and conversion, they also contributed to negative images of women by assuming that they were capable of egregious sins.

(28.) Middlesex Gazette 27 June 1816.

(29.) Field, Warning against Drunkenness, 14, 24; Lung, Brief Account, 6. Clearly, positive images of women existed during the colonial period as well, as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and others have chronicled. But alongside images of goodwives and helpmeets were representations of women as carnal, sinful, and corrupt, and these persisted as at least a cultural undercurrent beyond the colonial era. Peter Lung drew on this latter tradition to defend himself against public animus. For positive images of women, consult Ulrich, Goodwives and Dayton, Women Before the Bar, 62-65. On the image of woman as corrupt, see Kerber, Women of the Republic, 31; Stansell, City of Women, 20-21; Dayton, Women Before the Bar, 226.

(30.) Lung, Brief Account, 4, 14.

(31.) Lung Ibid., 9; 12; Swift, Vindication, 13. On the image of depraved woman, see Karlsen, Devil in the Shape of a Woman. For discussions of changing patterns of alcohol abuse and conceptions of intemperance, see W. J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition (New York, 1979).

(32.) On the image of victimized woman in antebellum temperance literature, see Harry Gene Levine, "Temperance and Women in 19th-Century United States," in Oriana J. Kalant, ed., Alcohol and Drug Problems in Women, vol. 5 of Research Advances in Alcohol and Drug Problems (New York, 1980), 25-67; Elizabeth Pleck, Domestic Tyranny: The Making of Social Policy against Family Violence from Colonial Times to the Present (New York, 1987), 49-66; and Nadelhaft, "Alcohol and Wife Abuse."

(33.) Levine, "Temperance and Women," 34. On the transition of temperance literature from didactic to sensational, consult David S. Reynolds, Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville (Cambridge, 1989), 65--73. See also Karlsen, Devil in the Shape of a Woman, 256-57. Karlsen notes that the middle class ideology of domesticity would, in the 19th century, ascribe negative female characteristics to women of color and of the lower class. Thus, in later years, if Lucy's drinking was mentioned at all, it would probably have been attributed to the depravity of her class, rather than an inherent flaw in the female sex. On the formation of the middle class, see Stuart Blumin, The Emergence of the Middle Class: Social Experience in the American City, 1760-1900 (Cambridge, 1989).

(34.) Field, Warning against Drunkenness, 9, 11, 15.

(35.) Philadelphius, The Moral Plague of Civil Society; or, the Pernicious Effects of the Love of Money on the Morals of Mankind; Exemplified in the Encouragement Given to the Use of Ardent Spirits in the United Stares, with Proper Remedy for the Cure of this National Evil (Philadelphia, 1821), 4; George W. Bethune, The Substance of an Address in Favor of Temperance Societies. Delivered on the 26th of February, 1833, at Rome (Utica, 1833), 12; Report of the Agency of Intemperance in the Production of Pauperism (Philadelphia, 1836), 7.

(36.) Field, Warning against Drunkenness, 23. Daniel A. Cohen suggests that even Field's sermon, despite its similarity to 18th-century models, moves away from a strictly individualistic understanding of intemperance as a personal sin to a more sociological conception of it as a social problem produced by custom and market forces. See his Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace, 96-98.

(37.) "A Leaf from the Chapter of Intemperance," in Temperance Almanac for the Year of our Lord 1835 (Philadelphia, 1834), 20.

(38.) Ibid., 21.
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Author:Martin, Scott C.
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Date:Dec 22, 2000

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